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Just to reiterate. . .

19 Apr

I feel that for white America to understand the significance of the problem of the Negro will take a bigger and tougher America than any we have yet known. I feel that america’s past is too shallow, her national character too superficially optimistic, her very morality too suffused with color hate for her to accomplish so vast and complex a tsk, Culturally the Negro represents a paradox: Though he is an organic part of the nation, he is excluded by the entire tide and direction of American culture. Frankly, it is felt to be right to exclude him, and it is felt to be wrong to admit him freely, Therefore if, within the confines of its present culture, the nation ever seeks to purge itself of its color hate, it will find itself at war with itself, convulsed by a spasm of emotional and moral confusion. If the nation ever finds itself examining its real relation to the Negro, it will find itself doing infinitely more than that; for the anti-Negro attitude of whites represents but a tiny part–though a symbolically significant one–of the moral attitude of the nation.

Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity, It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it connot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness. Am I damning my native land? No; for I, too, share these faults of character! And I really do not think that America, adolescent and cocksure, a stranger to suffering and travail, and enemy of passion and sacrifice, is ready to prove into its most fundamental beliefs” ~ Richard Wright, BLACK BOY, 1944.

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On Science and Religion

14 Nov

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I just finished watching the critically acclaimed movie Contact. I know, I’m late. Shut it.

For those that know me, know that I’m a sucker for cerebral movies that address existential questions. I am my father’s daughter. In fact, I related so much to Jodie Foster’s character and her relationship with her father.  (I swear I should’ve been an astronomer or physicist. Oh well.)  The movie reminded me of when me and my dad would talk for hours about “life out there,” parallel universes, multiple lifetimes. I remember one time my dad and I stood on our deck starring at this flickering light in the sky that moved in a circular fashion. I ran to retrieve my camcorder just so I could record what we both were witnessing. We stood on the patio for about 45 minutes guessing and hypothesizing about that light. What was it? Where did it come from? We didn’t know, but it was cool just to stand and wonder with my dad.  He was the only person I could ever wonder with.

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That Guy: Kevin Powell on Domestic Violence Awareness

3 Oct
Kevin Powell Image: The Brooklyn Paper

Kevin Powell Image: The Brooklyn Paper

You know that anti-sexist guy who we happen to come across in some off-beat progressive feminist magazine, or read about in a Women’s Studies class, or see in an independently produced documentary, yet he still seems mythical in our distant consciousness like faint familiarity? Upon coming across *that guy* we (i.e. the self-proclaimed feminists, womanists, or simply “pro-woman folk”) celebrate and lament all at once, as if to say; “Ah, yes, I’m sure that guy really does exist . . . somewhere.”

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Rest In Peace Michael Jackson: A Tribute

26 Jun

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Michael Jackson August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

My father died in December. Six months later the King of Pop passes away.  That’s just too much life and greatness to lose so soon.

Yesterday, the world lost a legend.  We lost another part of our cultural DNA.  Whatever you feel about Michael Jackson personally one thing is for sure; his life represented memories we cherish.  I think one of the reasons why Michael’s death sadly affected those of us who never even met him is because a piece of our childhoods and tightly held memories died with him yesterday.

I believe the concept of ‘losing our childhoods’ has profound meaning at this very moment.  So many of us mourn the loss of our childhoods with Michael Jackson’s passing.  Ironically, we just lost what MJ probably never had, and perhaps that’s why we mourn and feel entirely connected to a man we never even meant.

Michael songs are most certainly the soundtrack to my life.  Written in my music biography, I mention how I was born during a time when Michael Jackson’s Thriller “was a cultural upheaval,” an indication of how his music, at its arguable greatest, marked the beginning of my life and love for music.

No other artist will ever be able to replicate Michael’s style and musical genius.  Despite never meeting him or even seeing him in concert, I’m proud that we shared a lifetime together.  And I’m hopeful that when I see my dad, I’ll also get the chance to meet Michael one day, somewhere, some place magical.

For now, here’s to you Michael.

Join Rest In Peace Michael Jackson on Facebook to be a part of his story.

**UPDATE 10:45 pm EST June 26, 2009

I just checked on iTunes for shits and giggles to see if people were buying Michael Jackson’s music.  The screen grabs below tell the story.  Simply amazing.

June 26, 2009

Top Songs on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Top Albums on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Top Songs on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Top Songs on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Top Music Videos on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Top Music Videos on iTunes - June 26, 2009

Yours Truly Makes Ms.

23 May

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A few months ago my former professors at Texas Woman’s University put out a request to the list serv asking current and former WS graduates to respond to a Ms. Magazine query for their “2009 Guide To Women’s Studies.” (Side note: Kudos to Ms. for featuring women of color on the front page of their latest virtual issue on Women’s Studies programs and degrees.  Unfortunately, the canon of WS is still largely seen as a white feminist phenomenon).

In any event, I had to come up with a “where are you now?” type of passage (in 50 words or less).  The challenge, obviously, was coming up with a descriptive yet pity comment about how obtaining a M.A. degree made an impact on my personal and professional life.  I didn’t have to think too hard; earning a M.A. degree in WS actually did change my life.  After a night mulling over some sentiments, I came up with what I felt accurately described my thoughts about earning an arguably marginalized degree – the “journey metaphor” happened to work best.  After a few email correspondences and revisions with the Ms. editors, my passage finally made it to print.

Here it is:

“Most of my life I’ve journeyed to gain perspective. Only after completing a graduate degree in women’s studies did I realize my journey has a purpose. Currently, I work for Brave New Films as a political communications associate. I’m also an online content writer for YouthNoise.com. Both organizations’ missions emphasize social justice in the new media age.
—TARA L. CONLEY, M.A. IN WOMEN’S STUDIES
(TEXAS WOMAN’S UNIVERSITY, 2008)

And there you have it: My subtle, yet pretty damn cool, entrance into the mainstream is through a feminist medium.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I responded, I was still working full-time for Brave New Films at the time.  As you know, I’ve since left BNF to move on to new ventures.  As of June 1, 2009 I will be the new Associate Editor for Hiplolitics.com.  Hipolitics, or “Hips” for sort, is a new virtual magazine and social networking space that offers users much more than mindless gossip or inarticulate and unqualified analysis, Hips will be the quintessential source for all things political and progressive from a Hip-Hop head’s perspective.  Hips will cover U.S./global politics and the enigma that is Hip-Hop.  Think: CNN meets MTV, but with consciousness.  Hips launches this summer.

I’m looking forward to meeting and interviewing some amazing and provacative people.  So definitely stick around because 2009 is going to be an awesome year.

I Heart Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Dr. John H. Jackson

8 Jan

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I gotta girl crush.

Andrea Batista Schlesinger is one of the leading public policy thinkers of this century.  And yes, you may quote me on that.

She’s the Executive Director of The Drum Major Institute For Public Policy and has lots of cool ideas about how we can best use what we know as a nation to help improve our social and political environments.

I was just recently introduced to Schlesinger at the 2008 Facing Race Conference in Oakland, CA.  I presented on a workshop panel, “Using New Media and Technology to Advance Racial Justice” on behalf of Brave New Films.  For reals – see side pic. dsc_10451

I didn’t meet Schlesinger directly, although I became familiar with her work through others who attended the conference.  Since then I’ve been eager to get my hands on her new book coming out this summer, The Death of Why: The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy.

One notable quote from Schlesinger’s panel discussion that I take to heart goes a little something like this:

“I’m a radical. I think reality is the best place from which to make public policy.”

Best quote of ’09 so far (even though Schlesinger said it in ’08).

Okay, I admit.  I also gotta boy crush too.  Dr. John H. Jackson, President of the Schott Foundation, also spoke alongside Schlesinger at the same panel.  You can view the entire panel discussion at the Race Wire Blog.

Like Schlesinger, Jackson has some great insights into public policy matters, particularly as it relates to education disparities among boys and girls of color.  Though I didn’t get the opportunity to meet Schlesinger, I did get the chance to exchange ideas with Dr. Jackson.  There I was, this no-name writer who happens to work for two cool organizations speaking to a former Senior Policy Advisor to President Clinton and who is currently serving as part of Obama’s education transition team. Oh, and not to mention that Dr. Jackson has a bunch of degrees, his doctorate being from Haaaarvard.  But after we got talking, I realized that we weren’t much different especially since we both agreed that Lil’ Wayne’s rap lyrics are, like, not that profound.  For reals.  He is not the second-coming of ‘Pac.

Take a peep at this video, showcasing a glimpse of Jackson’s perspectives and visions during the conference discussion.

If you’re like me and you love all-things political, social, and current make sure you keep an eye out for Andrea Batista Schlesinger and John H. Jackson.  These two aren’t only my girl and boy crushes of ’09, they’re two intellectuals shaping the future of public policy.

What is a Progressive Movement? (A work in progress…)

12 Nov

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A cyber buddy of mine asked me an important question today via Facebook.  He wrote in response to my open letter to Russell Simmons:

“Hey Tara. I totally agree that it is silly to suggest that hip hop will be a serious part of the political process. I have a serious question for you though. What is the progressive movement? Can you put it into a few sentences?”

And this was my response:

Thx for commenting & asking a GR8 question! As I see it, a progressive movement is a forward shift in practice & ideology. As a practice, it’s a fluid space that looks like labor reform (EFCA), universal healthcare, energy policies that work with preserving our environment, not damaging it. I’m thinking in terms of human & civil rights – laws that give LGTBQ folks the same legal ‘privileges’ as heterosexual folks. It’s ideology (& I can write an entire thesis on my idea of progressive ideology), that doesn’t limit our scope of understanding the worlds around us. We begin to think less in terms of “us vs. them,” “this or that,” “black or white,” “moral or immoral” but consider that much of our world functions in an ‘in between’ space. By functioning within this ‘in between’ space, we acknowledge our pitfalls, failures, & vulnerabilities inspite/despite our incessant need to be right. A movement of progress means truding forward beyond what was & moving toward what can be.

I also want to add that depending on one’s ‘core belief system’ a progressive movement will differ. However, notwithstanding these core belief systems, I think folks might agree that a progressive movement is change of some sort. Now what that ‘change’ means to certain groups of people and how that ‘change’ can be accomplished will continually be up for debate.

I think asking ourselves what progress means is the $60 million question of our times.  As I continue to hash out exactly what this monster of an idea means, I wonder what others think about a ‘progressive movement.’  Can it be defined succinctly?  My guess is, probably not.